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The Mَarِtyr’s َOqal

The Oqal, also spelled Iqal, Egal, or Igal, is an accessory that is part of the traditional Arab dress, which is still maintained by some Arab countries and is worn by men on a daily basis over the Shmagh or Ghutra and other headdresses. The inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant have known it since ancient times, and stories of its origins and history differ. Some believe it was a tool to adapt to the nature of the region, as wearing Ghutra or head cover is important to reduce the heat of the sun and protect from sand, which are very common in these regions, so they cover their heads, and sometimes even their faces if necessary.

Oqal and its relation with the desert knights

In the past, Oqals were used for two main reasons; to tie camels and have them stay in a certain place, or to hold the Ghutra on top of the head in order to protect from direct sunglight and sandstorms. The Knights of the Arab Legion used the Oqal in a different way. History books contained writings that show courage and assertion on the battlefield, which is similar to the stories of the martyrs who tie their legs with their Oqals on the battlefield to urge victory or martyrdom.

Moustapha Al Akkad portraits these emotional scenes in his great film Omar Mukhtar, in the scene of Najib Al Hourani and his colleagues when they tied their legs with ropes, when he uttered his famous words: Jihad until martyrdom. A shot from Omar Mukhtar's film showing the mujahideen binding their legs for victory or martyrdom

The idea was to visualize the incident of linking the martyr’s leg with his Oqal, and his insistence on martyrdom or victory, these are the attributes and characteristics of our heroes who sacrificed their lives and stood firmly in the battlefield. The idea has been simplified, and it shows part of the martyr’s leg, tied with the headband.